When the name Billy Sims is mentioned, one description always springs to mind ï¿½ football legend. In short, Sims was one of those rare, highly gifted individuals who arrives on the college football scene and through his sheer greatness makes an impression that lasts for decades.
The Early Years
Raised early in his life in St. Louis, Missouri Sims moved to Hooks, Texas (population 2,800) to live with his grandmother when he was in the eighth grade. It was here that his football talents first began to blossom. Recruited to OU in 1975 under renowned coach Barry Switzer, Sims suffered injuries early and missed his entire freshman year and most of his sophomore season. Making up for lost time, Sims, sporting his now famous number 20 jersey, exploded onto the scene during his junior year (1978), tearing up one defense after another with his graceful yet deceptive style.
College Glory Years
In the process he racked up a record 1,762 yards on 231 carries for an average of 7.6 yards per carry or 160 yards per game. He also became the only back in Big 8 history to rush for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games. That amazing year, Sims was the nationï¿½s leading rusher and scorer. It was no wonder that he became only the sixth junior in history to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy. He also was named consensus All American, and AP and UPI College Player of the Year. He followed his junior year with a stellar senior season and was runner up for yet another Heisman Trophy.
Pro Career Years
In 1980, to no oneï¿½s surprise, Sims was the number 1 pick in the NFL draft and went on to a successful, though brief 41/2 year career with the Detroit Lions. He was named NFL Rookie of the Year and helped turn the Lions from a losing team (2-14) into a winner (9-7 after Sims arrived). In his brief pro stint, Sims gained 5,106 yards, scored 42 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl three times. In 1984, a knee injury ended Simsï¿½ football career.
Post Football Years
Sims retired to a ranch in Hooks with his family and became involved in numerous business ventures. Over the last 20 years, Sims has had his ups and downs like everyone else, but the memories of his glory days as a Sooner and the friendships he made there, especially with coach Switzer, remain as strong as ever. In 1995, Sims was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. --snip--